Allah Taala decrees in the Quran:
“And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives
and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient, Who, when disaster (balâ) strikes them, say,
“Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return.” Those are the ones upon
whom are blessings from their Lord and mercy. And it is those who are the [rightly] guided.”
Balâ (disaster) means to test, to examine, to put to trial. Words like ibtilâ (being stricken with
disaster) and mubtalâ (person stricken with disaster) are also from this root. Although now
these words are used only negatively, our testing by Allah Taala, in fact, means that He is
putting us to trials, which in turn may result in good (hayr.) So is our creed.
In the abovementioned ayah, our Rabb tells us “We will put you to various trials.” Trials
(imtihan) are a necessary part of life, we are sent to this world to be tested. However, it should
be remembered that trials do not come only by troubles and scarcity. Plenty, welfare and
prosperity are also trials and can only be passed by qualifying. Qualifying or paying due
for blessings (nimah) means to know Who grants them, to be thankful, and to abide by the
related rules and prohibitions of Islam.
We have been experiencing a global pandemic for several months now. We need to carry on
in the way that is allowed, without abandoning precautions. If we can make use of this
pandemic period as a means to purify our faith, deeds and manners, our patience will grow
stronger, and we will gain much spiritual benefit, inshallah.
Our beloved Prophet –sallallahu alayhi wa sallam- has plenty of advice on this matter. Let us
recall some of them:
A man approaches Rasulullah –sallallahu alayhi wa sallam- and asks:
– O Messenger of Allah! My whole property is gone. I lost my health as well.
Messenger of Allah –sallallahu alayhi wa sallam- said:
– There is no good (hayr) in the person whose property has never decreased and who has
never become sick. When Allah Taala loves a servant of His, He gives him/her
some troubles and tribulations. When He gives these, He also makes that person
patient. (Munavi, Fayzul-Qadîr, 6/426)
Muaz bin Jabal’s –radiyallahu anh- son passed away while he was outside of Madina.
Rasulullah –sallallahu alayhi wa sallam- wrote a letter to him and kindly informed him of the
situation and advised him to be patient and forbearing.
This is the letter:
“In the name of Allah, Rahim and Rahman (the Beneficent and Benevolent.) From
Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, To Muaz bin Jabal…
May the salam of Allah be upon you.
I thank (do hamd) Allah, other than Whom there is no God. May Allah increase your rewards.
In the face of this trouble, may He bestow upon you great rewards and give you strength to
stand firm. May He provide us and you with shukr (towards Him.)
Then you should know that our lives, properties and families are the gifts and trusts of Allah
Taala. He made it fard (obligatory) that we do shukr to Him for the things He granted,
and have patience when a calamity strikes. Your son, too, was the gift and trust of Allah
Taala. He provided you with joy and delight by this nimah and blessing. Then, He took him
back in return for a great reward. If you have patience and await your prize, there will be good
rewards for you.
O Muaz! Your grief should not lead you to behaviours that will annul the recompense and
the reward (sawab) Allah will grant. If you knew the reward you earned in return for this
calamity, you would see that the trouble is less than its reward.
Know that lamenting does not bring the deceased back, nor does it remove the grief.
Remember the ending that is also sure to come to you, so that your sadness vanishes.
May the salam of Allah be upon you.”
(Abu Nuaym, Khilyat’ul-Awliya, 1/243; Haythami, Majma’u’z-Zawa’id, 3/3; Hakim, al-Mustadrak,
Our beloved Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, who is the source of pride for all the
Universe, decreed that it is necessary, in the face of a test, that the heart should be awake, and
patience should be shown the moment a calamity strikes. As it is decreed in the Quran al-
Karim: “Who, when disaster strikes them, say, “Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him
we will return.” (Baqara, 156) Thus, it is decreed that we say this in the face of all kinds of
trouble. The sentence “Innâ lillâhi wa innâ ilayhi râji’ûn” which is usually recited when the
news of someone who passed away arrives, is the sentence that is decreed in the
abovementioned ayah, and ought to be recited on every occasion that presents us with
hardship. This is called “istirjâ” which literally means “to return” but as a term, it means the
recital of the sentence in the ayah, and adopting behaviour congruent with it.
The Messenger of Allah Taala, sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, said: “When even one of your
shoelaces snaps off, he ought to do istirjâ and make duaa, because this is a type of calamity
as well.” (Daylami, Musnad’ul-Firdaws, 1307; Ibn Sinnî, Amalu’-Yawm wa’l-Layla, 352)
By this Hadith, we see that when we do istirjâ, we will always be doing tafakkur
(contemplation) and we will meet all calamities knowing that we are in the realm of tests.
Abdullah ibn Abbas radiyallahu anh told:
“One day I was riding pillion¹ with Rasulullah sallalahu alayhi wa sallam. He told me:
-My little son! Should I teach you some things that Allah Taala will give you benefit by?
-Aye, O Messenger of Allah.
-Protect the rights of Allah Taala, so that He may watch and protect you. If you protect
Allah’s rights, you will always find His help beside you. Do not forget Allah in times of plenty
and comfort, so He remembers (helps) you in times of scarcity and trouble. When you are
going to ask for something, ask from Allah. If you are going to plead for help, plead
Know that even if all the creation gathered and wanted to help you in a matter that Allah did
not destine for you, they would not be able to do so. Again, even if all the creation attempted
to harm you, they could only do the harm Allah has destined for you. Because the pen that
wrote the qadar (fate) is not writing anymore, and the written is certain not to be altered.
Work for Allah with shukr and surety (yaqîn.) Know this, for sure, there are many hayrs
(good) in showing patience towards something you do not like. Allah Taala’s help arrives
alongside patience. There is no comfort and salvation without suffering. There is an ease with
every hardship.” (Tirmidhi, 2516; Ahmad bin Hanbal, al-Musnad, 1/293, 307)
With His tawfiq and inayah…
1 Travelling in the seat behind the saddle of a horse or a camel.
The previous article GLOSSARY tagged adab, Awliyah and Ghusl provides information about these tags.